Green Kitchens

Turning our kitchens green – no matter what color they are

LED kitchen lighting again January 26, 2009

Filed under: saving energy,Using the kitchen — kevwilliams @ 12:09 pm

More LED kitchen under-cabinet lighting, this time a new award winner from Kichler. Great stuff.

Right now I have a battery-powered multi-LED disc duct-taped to the underside of the cabinets over my main work area, after the previous fluorescent Brightstik fell off, hit the cast-iron frypan on the counter below, and exploded into the dinner I was just serving up. Broken glass and mercury do not make good condiments 😦

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Decluttering the fridge so you can clean it July 11, 2008

Filed under: saving energy,Using the kitchen — kevwilliams @ 11:56 am

Cleaning the fridge is an important part of keeping it running as efficiently as possible so that it uses as little energy as possible.

If your fridge looks like a bomb went off inside it, or it’s stuffed to the gills and you can’t find anything, or you’re afraid to open it because the science experiments have created their own civilization and reached the gunpowder stage… read on.

  1. Turn the fridge off, pull out everything, and start the fridge defrosting while you work. You can set pans of hot water inside to speed up melting. If the cleaning process will take a while, put frozen and highly perishable foods in a cooler or ice chest.
  2. Throw away the science experiments, anything with fur that shouldn’t have it, and anything that’s gone bad.
  3. Look at all the leftovers. Decide: will you eat them in the next 2 days? Can they be frozen to eat later? No? Into the garbage or compost they go.
  4. Check expiry dates. Throw out anything which is unreasonably beyond it’s date (it seems a shame to waste something which expired yesterday – but be sure you’ll eat it SOON!).
  5. Consider how you use the space inside your fridge: could it be better organized? Can shelves be moved to use the space better? Plan for better space use while it’s empty.
  6. Take out your baking soda container if it’s been there longer than a few months, and use it to clean out the sink drains.
  7. Clean the fridge.
  8. Add new baking soda
  9. Replace everything you’re keeping, using your new space plan.
  10. Admire the lovely clean spacious fridge.

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Growing Plants in the Kitchen July 2, 2008

Filed under: Using the kitchen — kevwilliams @ 10:29 am

Why would you want to grow plants in the kitchen? Aren’t they messy and buggy and insanitary?

Only if you make them that way!

Good things about kitchen plants…

  • you can eat them
  • they improve air quality
  • they improve your mood
  • they help keep humidity levels at a comfortable level in winter
  • they can give shade or hide an unpleasant view

Do you grow plants in your kitchen? Tell me about it!

 

Should you include a waste disposal in your kitchen? June 25, 2008

Filed under: appliances,design,recycling,saving energy,Three R's,Using the kitchen — kevwilliams @ 12:11 pm

Waste disposals (garburators, waste disposers) have pros and cons. Not everyone needs or wants one.

Pros:

  • easy disposal of food waste
  • no bad smelling garbage or compost container
  • waste containers can be smaller

Note: properly managed compost and garbage containers don’t have to smell.

Cons:

  • take up space in the sink cabinet
  • can be noisy
  • can get jammed by or damage items which go into the disposer by mistake
  • another appliance to go wrong and get serviced
  • food wastes add a high load to the sewage system (some areas do not allow disposals for this reason)
  • may overload septic systems
  • can smell (need to have citrus fruit or chemicals run through them to prevent this)
  • can clog and need plumbing disassembled to fix
  • uses a lot of water, which you or your local utility pays for

Because I compost most of my food waste, I don’t feel any need for a disposer. But more generally, I believe they waste electricity, water, soil fertility and sewage disposal capacity for very little return in convenience. In fact if I moved into a house with one already installed, I’d probably take it out!

Agree/disagree? let me know!

 

Under-Cabinet Lighting Alternatives June 19, 2008

Filed under: building,design,Using the kitchen — kevwilliams @ 3:52 pm

The hands-down best way to light your counter work areas any place you have wall cabinets mounted over them, is with under-cabinet lighting. It’s a wonderful thing to have light shining right onto your cutting board, instead of standing in your own shadow!

You can do this several different ways, and there are more choices becoming available all the time. here are some ideas:

Incandescent Lighting: cheap, hot, good light quality, but an energy hog. You can still buy incandescent strip lights intended to mount under your cabinets, but I don’t recommend them – there are much better alternatives.

Halogen and Xenon: either puck lights (small round individual fixtures) or strip lights. These are moderately priced, the light quality is excellent, but they are HOT HOT HOT. Yes, Xenon is cooler than halogen, but it’s still scary hot – not just the lights themselves, but the 12v transformer they run off. Even if they don’t get hot enough to cause damage, who needs that extra heat in the kitchen in the summer? Not energy-efficient, either.

Fluorescent: strip lights in various configurations, some can be connected together to all run off one power hookup. Older-type fluorescent lights had an unpleasant light quality, but they are cheap.
Newer varieties have much better light color and quality but they are rather more expensive, comparable with halogens. They run cool, and are energy efficient.

LED: these are the up-and-coming thing in lighting. Right now the really usable fixtures are expensive but they have very good light quality (no blue-white cast like older LEDs). They run even cooler than fluorescents, have an even longer lifetime, use less energy, and don’t have the disposal issues of the mercury in fluorescents.

Right now, I’d say go with LEDs if you can afford to, otherwise fluorescents – or if you can possibly wait, do so until the price of LEDs comes down within reach.

 

Welcome to Green Kitchens June 1, 2008

Filed under: building,design,General,planning — kevwilliams @ 10:36 pm

Hi, and welcome to Green Kitchens. The idea here is to spread and publicize ideas for making our kitchens more environmentally friendly, in how we design them, build them, and use them.

Comments and feedback welcome. If you come across a good idea you think should be included here, let me know!

 

The Three R’s in the Kitchen: RE-USE

Filed under: Three R's,Using the kitchen — kevwilliams @ 5:42 pm

There are many ways to re-use stuff in the kitchen. If you don’t know many, talk to your grandmother 🙂

One basic idea is to replace disposables with re-usables.

Paper towels: use cloths, rags (especially re-used worn out clothing like t-shirts), newspapers

Saran Wrap: use long-lived food storage boxes (Tupperware etc), and glass containers to store food, elasticized plastic “shower-cap” type lids to cover containers (they can be washed and reused multiple times), scraps of washed and reused poly bags if you need to lay plastic directly on top of a food to keep out air.

Aluminum foil: as above for food storage uses. Foil can be washed and re-used itself when you really must use it as in covering something in the oven (although consider using a lidded cooking container instead!)

Disposable plates, cups, flatware etc: obviously, use regular dishes and flatware instead and wash them.

More ideas? Add them in the comments!